Welcome! "The Evening Blues" is a casual community diary (published Monday - Friday, 8:00 PM Eastern) where we hang out, share and talk about news, music, photography and other things of interest to the community.
Just about anything goes, but attacks and pie fights are not welcome here. This is a community diary and a friendly, peaceful, supportive place for people to interact.
Everyone who wants to join in peaceful interaction is very welcome here.
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features delta bluesman Willie Brown. Enjoy!
Willie Brown - Make Me a Pallet on the Floor
“When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes… Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.”
-– Napoleon Bonaparte
News and Opinion
White House Backs Temporary Debt-Ceiling Fix
The Obama administration on Monday indicated it could support a temporary increase to the nation's borrowing limit to give Republicans and Democrats, locked in a bitter fight over funding government operations, more time to negotiate a longer-term solution. ...
Other Republicans said the time had come for conservatives to relent in trying to link government funding with measures to dismantle the health law. Senate Democrats have rejected multiple bills approved by House Republicans to fund federal agencies while also delaying or scaling back the health law.
"The question now is whether the people who fell for the Cruz folly will recognize that it was built on a false premise," said Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), referring to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and other conservatives who pushed Republicans to call for defunding the health law as a condition of financing government operations. "The whole thing was a joke from the beginning."
House GOP Won't Pursue Short-Term Debt-Ceiling Deal — For Now
House Republicans will opt not to push a short-term extension of the debt-ceiling, and instead will move quickly to bring two bills to the floor that they hope will be approved, merged, and sent to the Senate in short order, according to senior GOP aides.
The first piece of legislation would ensure that paychecks for essential government employees who have been working through the shutdown are delivered on time – a sensitive subject, considering the pay period for those employees commences at week's end.
The second measure would establish a negotiating team for the debt-ceiling and other fiscal debates. The group would be bipartisan and comprised of members of both chambers, and would immediately begin talks on a range of fiscal issues.
These two pieces of legislation, if approved, would merge and then be sent to the Senate.
CNN Shutdown Poll: Plenty of blame to go around
Most Americans say the government shutdown is causing a crisis or major problems for the country, according to a new national poll.
And while a CNN/ORC International survey also indicates that slightly more people are angry at Republicans than Democrats or President Barack Obama for the shutdown, it is clear that both sides are taking a hit. ...
According to the poll, 63% of those questioned say they are angry at the Republicans for the way they have handled the shutdown. ...
Fifty-seven percent of Americans are also angry at the way the Democrats are dealing with the shutdown. And a 53% majority say they are also angry at President Obama," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "It looks like there is more than enough blame to go around and both parties are being hurt by the shutdown."
‘House of Indecision’
Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, chairman of the Rules Committee, tells us Speaker John Boehner doesn’t yet have his debt-ceiling proposal finalized. For now, no legislation is headed toward his committee, and it’s all about messaging. “Negatory,” he replies, when asked whether the GOP’s next move has been set. “We’re going to keep with our great, positive attitude and tell the president, ‘you’ve got to sit down and negotiate.’”
“I’d say if you ran the clock on it, 48 hours,” Sessions adds, when asked how long it’ll take Boehner to unveil the leadership’s plan.
In private, Boehner has told his allies that he won’t bring up a clean CR, and he’s hopeful that as the deadline nears, President Obama will deal. “There’s no way the president holds firm,” a House GOP insider predicts. “Once that crack opens, I don’t know how the debt limit will be addressed, but it won’t be by Republican capitulation.”
Here's an interesting article. The author, though a right-winger with some bad prescriptions, points out that default is unnecessary, full of repercussions so awful for the powers-that-be as to be unthinkable and, the markets are the dog that didn't bark. So far the stock and bond markets are far from acting as if they expect anything to happen. Perhaps, since Wall Street owns the government, that's a pretty good indicator of what to expect.
The U.S. Debt Ceiling Fallacy: Agreement Or Not, There Will Be No Default
Come October 17 if our dysfunctional Washington hacks do not raise our debt ceiling, ominous forecasting of imminent default on our $17 trillion burden pound the airwaves. Prevarications foisted by the progressive press-corps regarding the United States becoming delinquent on its Treasury debt are as preposterous as they are disingenuous. Whether premeditated lying or, equally likely, out of a stark darkness of matters economic the result is the usual fear mongering we have come to expect from their rumor mills.
Inconvenient as they may be, some facts are in order. The fiscal 2013 debt service for the twelve months ending September 30 will be somewhere around $420 billion. (Per the Bureau of Fiscal Service the actual figure of 11 months through August was just under $396 billion). IRS revenues for the calendar 2012 tax year will probably be around $2.3 trillion. That equates to over a five and a half times debt service coverage. So having enough money is not even close to the issue.
U.S. stocks fall as budget fight continuesTed Cruz, there's a bus coming with your name on it...
The paralysis in Washington continued to weigh on markets. Analysts have expressed particular concern that the fight over the budget will stymie efforts to raise the budget ceiling, resulting in a US default with damaging economic consequences.
However, the market still considers a US default unlikely, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital.
“If the markets were really fearful of a default…. we wouldn’t be down a half a percent or three-quarters of a percent,” Cardillo said. “We would be down a heck of a lot more.”
Republican Rep. Dent: Ted Cruz ‘put us in a ditch’ without ‘a plan to get out’Found on Facebook:
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) on Monday echoed Peter King’s statement that the person to blame for the current government shutdown is Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
“If I had to cast blame anywhere, I would say it was Sen. Cruz and those who insisted upon this tactic that we all knew was not going to succeed,” Dent told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“What he did essentially, Sen. Cruz, basically, he took a lot of folks into the ditch. Now that we’re in the ditch, you can’t get out of the ditch, the senator has no plan to get out of the ditch, those of us who do have a plan to get out of the ditch and will vote to get out of the ditch will then be criticized by those who put us in the ditch in the first place.”
Do Americans Finally Realize the American Dream Is Dead?
[W]hen President Barack Obama was planning his run for a second term his pollsters noticed a profound shift in the national mood. The optimism was largely gone – and with it both the excitement and the delusion. The time-honoured rhetorical appeals to a life of relentless progress, upward mobility and personal reinvention didn't work the way they used to. ...
This wasn't just about the recession – though of course that didn't help – but a far more protracted, profound and painful descent in expectations and aspirations that has been taking place for several decades. For underpinning that faith in a better tomorrow was an understanding that inequality in wealth would be tolerated so long as it was coupled with a guarantee of equality of opportunity. In recent years they have seen both heading in the wrong direction – the gap between rich and poor has grown even as possibilities for economic and social advancement have stalled. ...
A Heartland Monitor poll last week showed that two-thirds of adults believe their children will enjoy less financial security than they do and face more challenges than opportunities. Last year the same pollsters found a slim majority defining getting ahead as simply "not falling behind". This lack of confidence in the ability to get ahead is twinned with almost total despair that the political class has neither the means nor the will to reverse the trend. ...
Both parties supported the financial deregulation and international trade liberalisation that laid the foundations for this despondency. Each blames the other for its consequences. Neither is capable of doing anything about it because the very monied interests that made this situation possible also make the politicians.
Russian Pirate Party Offers NASA Help in Times of Crisis
The Pirate Party of Russia has offered NASA the use of its dedicated servers to temporarily host the US space agency’s website as it has been shut down “due to the lapse in federal government funding.” ...
“We would like to offer you bulletproof collocation or dedicated servers on our hosting platform till the end of the crisis,” the Pirate Party said in a statement posted on its website Thursday.
“We stand for Internet privacy, and as the result you would not have to worry about programs such as PRISM and other illegal activities of secret services of different countries. Your traffic, your activity and the activity of your users will be in safety,” the statement said.
What a 16-year-old Pakistani Girl Knows That Obama Doesn't: Peace Talks Essential
Malala Yousafzai, the sixteen-year-old girl shot in the head by Taliban members in her native Pakistan for speaking out for women's right to education, is calling out the U.S. government and her own for refusing to do what seems obvious to her: hold peace talks. ...
Meanwhile, as the possibility of talks between the Afghan Taliban have stalled once again ahead of next year's deadline set by President Obama, a negotiated peace seems as far away as ever.
At a press conference on Monday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he is not sure the U.S.—now in its thirteenth year of occupying the Central Asian country—can be trusted to respect Afghan sovereignty after 2014. And once again, Karzai is threatening not to sign a military agreement, called the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), designed to establish the ground rules for ongoing U.S. and NATO involvement in the country. ...
"The United States and Nato have not respected our sovereignty. Whenever they find it suitable to them, they have acted against it. This has been a serious point of contention between us and that is why we are taking issue of the BSA strenuously in the negotiations right now," Karzai said. ...
Earlier this year, the Taliban opened an office in Qatar in order to pave the way for negotiations. So far, however, little or no progress has been made.
Enron billionaire expands craven plot to abuse workers
Rhode Island is the Democratic template for [Enron billionaire John] Arnold’s pension-slashing agenda. There, with the backing of Arnold’s cash and the Pew Charitable Trusts, the state’s Wall Street-funded politicians pleaded poverty as a justification to slash retiree benefits. Yet, almost all of the $2.3 billion cut to retirees’ cost of living increases didn’t go to saving the state money; most of it was handed over to billionaire hedge fund managers. Meanwhile, despite the pleas of poverty, the Ocean State apparently had so much cash lying around, reformers preserved the state’s $356 million in annual corporate welfare, including a $75 million headline-grabbing giveaway to former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.
Engineering such a huge and successful corporate heist in the Democratic state of Rhode Island, Arnold now appears to be taking his same road show from the smallest state in the nation to one of the biggest economies in the entire world: the Democratic state of California.
It is a bold move that this young billionaire has been planning for a while. As IRS financial reports show, Arnold has already been funneling money to right-wing groups in California that promote plans to slash retiree benefits. P.R.-wise, the effort has worked; Google “California” and “pension” and inevitably you will be hit with a wave of media sensationalism about how an alleged financial emergency in the Golden State means retiree benefits must be cut (even as far more expensive corporate welfare is preserved). Most of that news coverage doesn’t mention any inconvenient facts that might debunk the hysteria.
FBI struggles to seize 600,000 Bitcoins from alleged Silk Road founder
The FBI has found that seizing an anonymous decentralised peer-to-peer currency was trickier than it seemed, following the Bureau’s bust of the international drugs marketplace, Silk Road.
When Ross Ulbricht, known as Dread Pirate Roberts to users of the site, was arrested last week, the FBI seized 26,000 Bitcoins belonging to Silk Road customers. But it also attempted, unsuccessfully, to claim the nearly 600,000 - thought to be worth around $80m - which Ulbricht himself is thought to be holding. ...
In order to transfer Bitcoins out of a “wallet”, the name for the digital file which contains the encrypted information necessary to spend the currency, users need to know that wallet’s password or “private key”.
According to Forbes’ Kashmir Hill, that hurdle is causing the FBI difficulty.
“The FBI has not been able to get to Ulbricht’s personal Bitcoin yet,” wrote Hill. An FBI spokesperson said to Hill that the “$80m worth” that Ulbricht had “was held separately and is encrypted”
Maryland partners with Facebook to censor content ‘without societal value’ in new cyberbullying law
Maryland's anti-cyberbullying law ("Grace's Law") is ... the byproduct of the charged reaction to a teen's (Grace McComas) post-bullying suicide. Grace's Law attempts to outlaw being a jerk while still pretending it doesn't tread all over the public's First Amendment rights. It grants exceptions for "expressing political views" and "conveying information" but that's it. And if it's a teen on the receiving end of "electronic annoyance" (whether or not the "annoyer" knows the target is a teen), expect the hammer to fall swiftly and crushingly.
Grace's Law is now in effect and the state of Maryland has gone even farther, partnering with Facebook to help it censor the output of Maryland citizens, as Walter Olson details at Cato:On Tuesday, the new law took effect, and this morning Maryland attorney general Douglas Gansler unveiled a joint initiative with Facebook and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) in which Facebook will create a new program for school officials, the Educator Escalation Channel — initially limited to use in the state of Maryland, presumably pending similar enactments elsewhere — allowing the officials to object to Facebook users’ content. Per local radio station WTOP, Maryland school officials will be offered the chance to flag “questionable or prohibited” language. That is to say, they will flag speech that isn’t prohibited by the new law but which they deem “questionable.”
The targets of the new program, according to Gansler as quoted by WTOP, include persons who are “not committing a crime… We’re not going to go after you, but we are going to take down the language off of Facebook, because there’s no redeeming societal value and it’s clearly hurting somebody.” That is to say, Gansler believes he has negotiated power for school officials to go after speech that is not unlawful even under the decidedly speech-unfriendly definitions of the new Maryland law, but which they consider hurtful and lacking in “redeeming societal value.”
Pharmaceutical firms paid to attend meetings of panel that advises FDA
A scientific panel that shaped the federal government’s policy for testing the safety and effectiveness of painkillers was funded by major pharmaceutical companies that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for the chance to affect the thinking of the Food and Drug Administration, according to hundreds of e-mails obtained by a public records request.
The e-mails show that the companies paid as much as $25,000 to attend any given meeting of the panel, which had been set up by two academics to provide advice to the FDA on how to weigh the evidence from clinical trials. A leading FDA official later called the group “an essential collaborative effort.” ...
The FDA has been criticized for failing to take precautions that might have averted the epidemic of addiction to prescription drugs including Oxycontin and other opioids.
“These e-mails help explain the disastrous decisions the FDA’s analgesic division has made over the last 10 years,” said Craig Mayton, the Columbus, Ohio, attorney who made the public records request to the University of Washington. “Instead of protecting the public health, the FDA has been allowing the drug companies to pay for a seat at a small table where all the rules were written.”
Even as the meetings were taking place, the idea of FDA officials meeting with firms that had paid big money for an invitation raised eyebrows for some. In an e-mail to organizers, an official from the National Institutes of Health worried whether the arrangements made it look as if the private meetings were a “pay to play process.”
The Evening Greens
SCOTUS justices scheduled to consider climate change cases
The U.S. Supreme Court meets later this week to consider whether to undertake a legal review of the Obama administration's first wave of regulations tackling climate change. ...
The regulations, which apply to a cross-section of polluters from vehicles to industrial facilities, aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists say these are the prime contributor to climate change.
States, including Texas and Virginia, and industry groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had filed petitions asking the justices to review the regulations, arguing they would pose an economic burden to implement, among other complaints.
Frank Giustra, President Bill Clinton's Close Colleague, Joins US Oil Sands Board
Frank Giustra - key power broker and close colleague of former President Bill Clinton - has taken a seat on the Board of Directors of U.S. Oil Sands, an Alberta-based company aiming to develop tar sands deposits in Utah's Uintah Basin. ...
Founder and Director of the Radcliffe Foundation and Co-Director of the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (formerly known as the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative), Frank Giustra has maintained close ties with Bill Clinton since 2005. ...
With their history of partnering up on business deals worldwide, front-line Utah environmental activists fear the Uintah Basin could be next on the list for Frank Giustra and Bill Clinton. ...
"The real risk here is that investors will view Giustra and the other board members involvement as attractive, and will throw their own money away into a speculative investment," [Jessica Lee, an activist with Peaceful Uprising and Utah Tar Sands Resistance] said. "Frank Giustra will not stay behind to clean up the mess U.S. Oil Sands leaves, pocketing whatever money he can and leaving Utah with a wasteland."
Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign Growing
A campaign to persuade investors to take their money out of the fossil fuel sector is growing faster than any previous divestment campaign and could cause significant damage to coal, oil and gas companies, according to a study from the University of Oxford. ...
"Stigmatisation poses a far-reaching threat to fossil fuel companies – any direct impacts of divestment pale in comparison," said Ben Caldecott, a research fellow at the University of Oxford's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, and an author of the report. "In every case we reviewed, divestment campaigns were successful in lobbying for restrictive legislation." ...
Some major investors, such as the $74bn Scandinavian asset manager Storebrand, have already pulled their funds from coal stocks. But the researchers found that even if the maximum possible capital was divested by university endowments and public pension funds, the total was relatively small compared to the market capitalisation of traded fossil fuel companies and the size of state-owned enterprises.
However, the team concluded: "The outcome of the stigmatisation process, which the fossil fuel divestment campaign has now triggered, poses the most far-reaching threat to fossil fuel companies and the vast energy value chain."
Right now the NSA is spying on everyone's personal communications, and they’re operating without any meaningful oversight. Since the Snowden leaks started, more than 569,000 people from all walks of life have signed the StopWatching.us petition telling the U.S. Congress that we want them to rein in the NSA.
On October 26th, the 12th anniversary of the signing of the US Patriot Act, we're taking the next step and holding the largest rally yet against NSA surveillance. We’ll be handing the half-million petitions to Congress to remind them that they work for us -- and we won’t tolerate mass surveillance any longer.
StopWatching.us is a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum.
Blog Posts of Interest
Here are diaries and selected blog posts of interest on DailyKos and other blogs.What's Happenin'
A Little Night Music
Willie Brown - Mississippi Blues
Stefan Grossman - Mississippi Blues
Willie Brown - Future Blues
Willie Brown - Ragged And Dirty
Willie Brown - M & O Blues
Kid Bailey (Willie Brown?) - Mississippi Bottom Blues
Kid Bailey (Willie Brown?) - Rowdy Blues
Be Good Tanyas - Rowdy Blues
Doc Watson - Make Me a Pallet On Your Floor
Gillian Welch - Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor
It's National Pie Day!
The election is over, it's a new year and it's time to work on real change in new ways... and it's National Pie Day. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to tell you a little more about our new site and to start getting people signed up.
Come on over and sign up so that we can send you announcements about the site, the launch, and information about participating in our public beta testing.
Why is National Pie Day the perfect opportunity to tell you more about us? Well you'll see why very soon. So what are you waiting for?! Head on over now and be one of the first!